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If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This explores life’s rich silences in relationships both acknowledged and covert, and in the unspoken, often treacherous dynamics of families. Written with maturity and insight, these stories plumb the depths of love, loss and hope.A blind teenager sees the fractures in her parents’ marriage more clearly than they can themselves. A mother cIf I Loved You, I Would Tell You This explores life’s rich silences in relationships both acknowledged and covert, and in the unspoken, often treacherous dynamics of families. Written with maturity and insight, these stories plumb the depths of love, loss and hope.A blind teenager sees the fractures in her parents’ marriage more clearly than they can themselves. A mother comes to terms with her adult daughter’s infidelity, even as she keeps a disturbing secret of her own. An accident on a trip to Italy and an unexpected connection with a stranger cause a woman to question her lifelong assumptions about herself.These stories are luminous, wise and unerringly humane, and their emotional generosity is all the more moving for Robin Black’s restrained and accomplished style. This is an extraordinarily poised collection from one of America’s brightest new voices....

Title : If I Loved You I Would Tell You This
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781921640421
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 268 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

If I Loved You I Would Tell You This Reviews

  • Elyse
    2018-10-22 23:28

    5++++ Stars!For 'anyone' who has ever said --they are not fans of short stories -- I dare you to spit those words out after reading ROBIN BLACK! I think I've just discovered a new TOP FAVORITE WRITER. I'll read ANYTHING this woman writes! I'll read 'this' book again! In my experience, Robin Black is a MASTER of the EMOTIONALLY ACCURATE and SIGNIFICANT!!! She writes with a vulnerability that feels free from fear....powerful, with barriers broken. The author may have opened things in me that have been there before. (which is why I must read this again) I'm clear I have many limitations --holes in my education -can't write worth beans myself -- but that doesn't mean I can't see -feel -smell truth! Robin Black has the ability to look inside a person fully -Her characters are three dimensional, and you feel as if you are in the same room with them. Oh...and Robin's writing .........is deeply deeply satisfying --She expresses with words the core essence of humanity.I 'paused' many times to think and digest --- but here are a few sentences I read more than twice:1) "Family Life. Looking back, it seems like a dance, a four person minuet comprised of steps toward and steps away, approaches and retreats, ending, finally, which each of them standing alone."2) "She only said the most important thing to remember was that wishes 'made correctly' do come true. Always."Even when you think it's impossible", she said, "Even when you think its too late".3) "Having a parent die who is crazy is different from having a parent die who isn't crazy. I know because I have had both kinds, and they both have died." 4) "I mean, its hard to build a whole life around someone saying, "So What". Frankly, I think nine years was a pretty damned good stretch". There were many other wonderful 'words-of-praise' by others included in this paperback --(on the back of the book, and the first few pages). ALL WERE RIGHT ON!!! Here is one I must 'repeat'. It rings true to me with every cell in my body:"[Robin]Black delivers real emotion the kind that gives you pause...I want to shout about how just when you thought no one could write a story with any tinge of freshness let alone originality about childhood...about marriage...about old age, Black has done it." Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune.

  • Dianne
    2018-10-24 20:33

    Unless I am reading an author who is a MASTER of the short story (Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri, Hilary Mantel), I am often left feeling like I have had a snack instead of the meal I really craved. I'm so hungry for more - I want to know more about these people, their stories, what happens next.I picked this up because I loved Robin Black's Life Drawing. These short stories are pretty good - some better than others - but all with her lovely writing and uncanny ability to create relatable characters who will make you gasp with recognition as they reveal all of their human frailties.I liked this a lot, but did not love it as I did Life Drawing. Not fair to compare - totally different formats - but I think, like many authors, her true strength is the novel. Not because she lacks any writing skill, but because she is so very good - you always want more. In short stories, the sad truth is there IS no more - and so I am left feeling slightly unsatisfied.This is a 3.5 for me, but rounding up because, well, ROBIN BLACK.

  • Kelly
    2018-10-27 17:24

    Just a minute ago the world made sense. The ground under your feet was strong, concrete. But now...now your heart is racing, the noise that just a moment ago existed now sucked up into a vacuum of complete silence, and that cold sweat that you'd always heard about is now pooling at the back of your neck. But all you can do is stand there, protected by an invisible bubble that was kind enough to shut out the world because it knows, even if you don't, that you and everything you know is about to change. Unlike the dramatic presentation in movies, these 10 tales don't glorify death and transformation. Instead, Mrs. Black simply embraces it and ask only for her readers to bear witness to the passage unfolding and maybe, just maybe you'll see the beauty of humility and revelation in the transitions. With a writing style that captivates you and a pace that moves you, even when you don't think you can handle another sad story, you'll find you can't help but turn the page.

  • Jill
    2018-10-30 19:42

    Decades ago, Ernest Hemingway said that the most important thing was to “write what’s true.” By that criterion, Robin Black’s collection of 10 short stories is an unqualified success. All of them are quite good and some of them are downright exceptional. She writes about the truest things in life – fragility, loss, and the secrets we keep from each other.Her characters could walk off the pages – that’s how authentic they are. Take Jack Snyder in the opening story, The Guide. He is taking his college-bound daughter, who was blinded as a child, to get her first guide dog. As he struggles to let her go so she can forge her own identity, he is also wrestling with a secret: his marriage to her mother is a sham and he intends to leave her after she departs. The story is beautifully written.Or another story, Immortalizing John Parker, Clara Feinberg, a woman of a certain age, is mourning the loss of her romance. An artist, she is asked to paint the portrait of an elderly man by his wife, and she soon intuits that he is dying. She considers, “It won’t be the same picture, of course, not the one that so interested her. She’ll have to give up on the notion of depicting time itself – as a kindness.”Or, perhaps my very favorite, Tableau Vivant. Jean, who is keeping the secret that she recently had a mild stroke from her husband of many years, is visited by her adult daughter, Brooke. She is forced to come to terms with her daughter’s secret – Brooke’s infidelity. The author writes, “As Brooke opened the door, Jean had the impulse to ask her if she loved him, as though hearing her daughter say it out loud would make it any clearer than it was. As though she herself needed it stated, made official somehow, to justify all that had gone on.”For fans of the short story, and I am one of them, these are beautifully measured, lovingly composed, and intelligently offered to the reader. They are, all of them, little gems.

  • Kats
    2018-10-26 21:24

    Another extremely cold and rainy day in Switzerland, so please excuse the ridiculously long review of this wonderful collection of short stories. It's not even a review, but a quick summary of each story (relatively spoiler free, I hope), and my favourite quotes from it. I feel compelled to do it as I may otherwise forget them too quickly (not that they're not memorable!) and be left without much to refer back to at my book club meeting next week. These stories are so carefully crafted, and I was fully invested in every single one which is why I would only read one every few days, leaving enough time to "digest" the characters, their backstory, their conflict, their thoughts and actions, before moving on to the next one. I particularly enjoyed Robin Black's astute insights into relationships, family dynamics, and especially the joys and worries of parenting - throughout life. I know absolutely nothing about the author, but it's obvious from her writing, and choice of emotionally traumatic subjects, that she has lived a rich and varied life, ups and downs, and taken good note. I hope to be reading more stories by her in the future. So here they all are: The Guide Jack and his blind daughter, Lila, are on their way to meeting a guide dog (and its trainer/breeder) for her. We learn about the terrible accident that caused Lila to lose her sight, and how Jack’s life and marriage irrevocably changed after the tragic accident. It seems as though he copes a lot less well with her blindness than Lila does herself, and he regularly tells white lies in the hope of keeping his daughter happy. However, Lila is a very insightful girl who doesn’t need actual sight to know what’s going on around her. 4/5If I loved you Written in epistolary form, the narrator is addressing her hostile neighbour who is either oblivious or highly unsympathetic to her family situation. Her severely disabled son has had to be institutionalised following her gradual physical decline owing to many rounds of chemotherapy. Her time is limited, and she fears for her husband’s wellbeing as well as for her son's future following her death. Such an emotionally charged story told in a most powerful way - loved it!! 5/5Immortalizing John Parker Clara Feinberg, divorced artist in her 60s (?) and specialised in fine arts portraits, reflects upon her own life whilst painting the portrait of a dull(ed) looking, elderly man named John Parker. Following her husband’s indiscretions she divorced him and took up her own affair with a family friend who has recently passed on. She is heart-broken but decides, for reasons I didn’t quite understand, to tell her ex-husband of her affair when she bumps into him and they go out for dinner. Favourite quotes„Age suits her. But she knows too well what a face can reveal.“ „Live long enough, it seems, and every fire can burn itself out“ 4/5 Harriet Elliot A dark and satirical coming of age story told from a young girl’s perspective who is sent to a hippie school by her not-so-peaceful parents. Harriet is the new girl at school and gets bullied by the other children for her prissy clothes, but she seems totally unaffected by their disdain. In fact, it turns out that she is of such steely confidence that she puts the narrator under her spell and makes her do things previously considered unthinkable. Favourite quotes: “We were taught tolerance by our Quaker teacher at every chance. There was God in each of us – even in those of us, like me, who had been raised to believe there was no God. 5/5 Gaining Ground Told from the daughter of a severely mentally ill man who commits suicide, she is the mother of a 4 year old girl and separated from her daughter’s father, a man who is very non-committal, unaffected and dull. The night her father commits suicide, there is an electrical current in the water pipes shocking her young daughter who is in the bath. The story ends with a limerick that summarises the story very well: “There once was a man with a daughter, Whose electricity ran in her water. When his body was found, Her house had lost ground, But what was the lesson it taught her?” Not sure I appreciated the way she spoke of her ex, nor his need for him despite all his shortcomings. The style in this story seemed a little more disjointed, the character wasn’t really in tune with herself, but the message was still a strong one - things happen for a reason - something I like to believe, too. Favourite quotes: “It was 911 calling me. If you can believe it. Them calling me.” “Having a parent die who is crazy is different from having a parent die who isn’t crazy.” “Marriage is a funny thing. Even when it’s over. Maybe especially then.” 4/5 Tableau Vivant Jean has moved into a cottage in rural Massachussetts with her older husband, Cliff, who is 15 years her senior. When he became “an old man” at 80, she turned into a full-time care-giver at 65. They have a quiet routine, even though they moved around a lot in the past. Jean has recently had a stroke and has managed to hide this from her husband and children by covering it up and blaming the symptoms and her physical struggles on something else. Her daughter, Brooke, comes to stay unexpectedly, but seems to use her parents’ home as a clandestine venue to conduct an extramarital affair with a man who has his own family and life struggles to deal with. Jean is observing all this quietly, tries not to judge and illustrates how we never stop worrying about our children even when they have reached middle age themselves. Favourite quotes: “…. In her shapeless grey dress, no zippers, no buttons. Stroke clothes.” “Jean had spent a lifetime trying to be inconspicuous, appreciating that nature had given her a headstart. “ “Whatever sex her children were having was no more real sex to her than the stuff in their diapers had been real shit. Our children exist in some not quite human realm, she’d long before decided. They aren’t exactly people to us. “ “How odd it was, she thought, that parents so often did that, handed out attributes to their children like sections of the same cherry pie. “ 5/5 Pine Claire is an almost 40 year old, widowed single-mother to teenager Alyssa, who was the apple of her father’s eye. Joe died about three years prior to this story taken place, taken by a short, harsh battle against cancer that lasted 6 weeks only from the point of diagnosis. She’s formed a friendship with Kevin, a man she met at work whilst she was still happily married, who has been biding his time to take her husband’s place by being more than just a companion, but Claire doesn’t feel real chemistry and just keeps him around as a shoulder to lean on. Her daughter suspects that Kevin wants more from her mum and awkwardly tries to give them her blessing. Whilst this is going on, Claire is also analysing a new friendship she has formed with a fellow “soccer mom” who has a peg leg but seems so happy with her husband, it’s palpable to grieving and resentful Claire. She is also prophylactically grieving for the loss of her 15 year old daughter (“pining” for her company) who is only a few years away from leaving home to go to university. Favourite quotes: “I fell out of place and absurdly, embarrassingly hurt, angry that no one sees me cry, worried that anyone will, too obvious and too invisible at once.” “all I wanted from friends is that they agree with me that life was good, that my choices were inspired and that my futures bright as anything can be.” “And I couldn’t fuck the living crap out of Kevin; he was just too nice. I fired him as a lover after one tender, terrifying occasion on which, as I felt him rocking just too gently back and forth in me, I lay beneath him petrified he would declare himself in love. “ “I listen to her sounds from the other rooms, music, doors opening, closing, the toilet flushing, water running; but drowning them out is the silence that will replace my daughter, before many more years have passed.” Joe: “I can handle dying; I couldn’t handle it if it were you or her.” 5/5 A country where you once lived Jeremy, a 60 something year old, highly acclaimed cancer research scientist, travels to the English countryside to visit his now married daughter whom he hasn’t seen or even spoken with in many years. His ex-wife still lives in the UK, too, and has a close relationship with their daughter. He is a man full of regrets about what happened with his marriage, but how he let his daughter slip away from him, and is set on making amends. He is deeply in love with his new partner, Rose, a woman the same age as his daughter, and it’s for the integrity he wants her to see in him, that he undertakes the emotionally difficult trip to England. Whilst there something sad happens, and he and his wife conduct an interesting conversation about parenting. Favourite quotes: ”Under different circumstances, that might have signalled a chance to start over, one betrayal cancelling out the other, the slate wiped clean; but as it went, they were like the duelling part that shoots simultaneously, so both end up dead.” “Her shoulder blades, jutting straight out from her back, had seemed like vestigial wings, reminders of her flight. But now she’s grown plump, round and soft, as though nature reversed a sculptor’s work, encasing her true form in this obscuring one.” “He’s unused to the possibility that any aspects of his parenting, even minor ones, may have stood her in good stead. “ “It’s unexpectedly painful to have become a pronoun.” “Nothing says ‘rapprochement’ like slaughtering a bird.” “That she was probably paying for those crazy years she had.” “Two lies told for one kindness, a bookend to the parallel confessions they made years before.” 5/5 …Divorced, Beheaded, Survived In this tale, the first person narrator is Sarah, 40 something year old mother of a 16 year old boy and a 12 year old girl, who looks back at a childhood game that the neighbourhood kids used to play repeatedly 30 years ago. One boy played Henry VIII, whilst all the other kids lined up to play the various wives with Anne Boleyn being the most sought after role in their “production”. Sarah’s brother, Terry, was a very dignified Anne Boleyn, with a good sense of humour and brave acting skills. Yet another story that deals with the loss of a loved one, and again the writing got right under my skin. Because that kind of grief is so awful, and so true. Favourite quotes: ”’Mom, he can’t be dead.’” I didn’t speak. Can’t be. I know that feeling. Can’t be. But is. I don’t think about Terry every day, anymore. And sometimes I’m stunned by that fact. It isn’t only the discomfort of disloyalty I feel, it’s the face of utter disappearance after death. The idea that as loved as we may be, we may also be forgotten. If only for a day here and there. It’s family information. The kind that travels in the air that children breathe. There are things that go on, I believe, important things that make only an intuitive kind of sense. Silences, agreed to. Intimacies, put away.5/5The History of the WorldTo celebrate their 65th birthday Kate and her twin brother, Arthur, take a holiday in Tuscany. Kate has been left by her husband about ten months earlier, and she is still very hurt, very resentful, very bitter and very much in need of her brother’s emotional support, reassurances and his unashamed taking of her side – which never comes. This is one of the few stories in the collection where something major actually happens / unfolds in the present tense as the story unfolds. In that sense, I found it to be the least predicable of them all, and I was surprised at the sudden turn of events. I won’t go through the other nine stories now, but I think it’s also the only one that has an alternating change in narrator’s perspective (either Kate or her brother Arthur), which gives additional insight to both their emotional traumas. Being one of the longest stories, though, it was also one with an ending most closely resembling a conclusion – a satisfying read. Favourite lines: Arthur: And it isn’t the words he can’t find – for once. It’s the sentiment. What he really wants to tell his sister is to get over it, already. Pull herself together. Stop dragging her sorry self around, around such beautiful sights as this, too teary and bleary and just too bloody self-absorbed to see what’s before her eyes. Life is short. Too short for this kind of extended mysery. “Stop wasting your life”, he wants to say. They were playmates at times, sworn enemies at others, and it all seemed to wash out by the end of any day. That is the problem with the past, she thinks, as she flicks off the light. This illusion that revisiting it might somehow change what has occurred. 5/5

  • Larry H
    2018-10-27 19:37

    What a beautifully moving book this was. Robin Black's short story collection examined the tenuous connections of relationships—between parent and child, lovers, friends, siblings, even strangers. Some of the stories (one in particular) made me laugh out loud, some made me cry, but all made me think and have definitely touched my heart. Some of the most memorable stories included the opening story, "The Guide," which followed a father reluctantly watching his blind daughter get ready to head off to college; "Immortalizing John Parker," a story about an artist struggling to paint a portrait of a dying man while dealing with the end of her own relationship; "Some Women Eat Tar," a humorous look at how a woman's pregnancy affects her relationship with the baby's father; and the closing story, "The History of the World," which looked at the difficult yet cherished relationship of aging siblings on a trip to Italy. And that just scratched the surface of the collection.I never used to read short stories because I didn't like getting attached to characters and getting immersed in the plot, only to have the story end fairly quickly. But the opportunity to experience the range of characters, plots and emotions that Robin Black has created in this collection is amazing. Any one of these stories could stand on its own and be developed into a novel, and I'd love that, because in just a few pages, I felt completely hooked by these characters. This book is fantastic, and given that it is Black's fiction debut, I can't wait to see what comes next in her career.

  • Alan
    2018-11-13 22:41

    There was a point when I thought I’ll not go on, but like Beckett decided I must go on. That wasn’t because of the quality of the stories – throughout the writing is excellent, firmly in the (as it says on the cover of my copy) Munro-Bloom-Moore firmament and as good – but because every story revolved around illness and/or death/old age. There are strokes, blindness, learning difficulties (still called mental retardation in America), often reflecting emotional shortcomings. Plus there was often a search for love or acceptance or peace and runaway men (occasionally women). It became a bit much. So I did put it down, read Walser’s Berlin Stories for relief and came back recharged to this book. I recommend that, don’t read them all at once (although as it’s a library book due back soon I couldn’t hang about too long), but read them because they’re good.

  • Julie Christine
    2018-11-04 22:40

    Three and a Half StarsA blind daughter whose perception is far keener than her father realizes; a wife who hides the evidence of a mild stroke behind a turquoise scarf; the new girl at school who seems to float above everyone’s low opinion of her, like a faerie in white tights and black-patent Mary Janes; a painter trying to capture what little life remains in a fading man . . . Robin Black presents a tableau of sensitive characters existing in perhaps mundane circumstances—marriage, parenthood, school—but finding the extraordinary in life’s ordinary. Although this collection of ten short stories appeared in 2010, I came to know of Robin Black only in 2014, through her first novel, Life Drawing. I found her writing so superb, her approach to a mature marriage extraordinary and haunting, that I’ve been eager to read If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This since. I can’t be as enthusiastic here—not every story resonated, and her writing does not have the same spark and vibrancy as I found in Life Drawing, but it’s not a fair scale of judgment. These stories were written over a period of several years, perhaps as a writer’s apprenticeship, though there is a thread of domesticity that weaves them together thematically.The first and last stories, and one in the middle, are my favorites. The Guide is a deftly handled glimpse of tenderness and tragedy as a father hands over the care of his teenaged daughter to a guide dog, reliving the guilt and anger of the long-ago accident that robbed her of her sight. Nearly grown and ready to leave home, the girl is independent and strong, and sees far more of the world than her father realizes, including that her parent’s marriage is a sham. In The History of the World another accident strands an aging divorcee in Italy and she finds beauty in brief moments of anonymity with a kind waitress, as she waits for the real world to close in around her. Harriet Elliott is the most surprising of the collection. Two young girls collide, one in a coddled bubble of fatherly love, spinning out tales of kidnapping and revenge, the other living in hippie squalor, watching her father pack up his things to carry on with his life elsewhere. There is something deliciously creepy about Harriet Elliott that elevates this story from the dense emotional depths of the others. Robin Black’s writing is elegant, if not almost too composed, like drinking a Chablis that’s a tad too chilled. There were times, such as in A Country Where You Once Lived, where a father sees his grown daughter and ex-wife after a long estrangement, that I wanted more from the characters than mere observation or passive engagement; or Pine, where a widow watches a friend, her daughter, and an ex-lover as if from behind a misted-over window. The solemnity and dignity of behavior drove a sort of melancholy that made their emotional dilemmas difficult to empathize with. For all that, if you are a reader of short stories, this is a collection I highly recommend.

  • Abigail
    2018-11-10 17:25

    I just grabbed this book off a library shelf because the cover and title were intriguing. I read the first story and thought "Hmmm, pretty good. Wonder how the others will compare." The next was also great. And the next. And the next. All ten of them were incredible pieces of fiction. I have never come across such well developed and deeply feeling characters in short stories. I have never read a collection of short stories that I simply couldn't put down. In fact, I am often drawn to short stories because they require a less intense commitment than novels, and I can stretch out the reading. I finished this in three days and found it hard to go to bed once I had finished. I had to pick up Flannery O'Connor's Collected Stories to dull the pain--not because Black's stories pack the same sort of punch as O'Connor's or spotlight human depravity as O'Connor's do, but because the writing is of a similar caliber. Yes, it really is. Black writes of life crises: their build-up, their aftermath, and occasionally the living through them. But the emphasis is never on the crises. It is on the people affected by them, the relationships shattered--or not--because of them and the sheer banality of enduring them amidst all the other living one has to do. While examining some of the most heartbreaking possibilities imaginable, Black never fails to offer the reader hope if not for her characters' futures then simply for their very selves and the courage they--and all of us at one time or another--must bring to each day.

  • Urmila
    2018-10-19 15:14

    I finally finished this (obviously I had very little incentive to continue to pick up a book that just made me feel bad). That said, Black is a very good writer, and she creates interesting characters. And each story, by itself, is well-written and (usually) engrossing. Read as a collection, however, these "stories" constitute cheap, manipulative, and lazy storytelling. People suffer. Then they suffer more. Then they may, or may not, learn something from that suffering. Or perhaps they're not self-aware enough to learn -- so WE suffer on their behalf. For God's sake! If Black had picked just ONE story, and focused on plot and character development, she could have constructed an honest, interesting novel about destructiveness and self-destructiveness, human cruelty, and tragedy -- and their various effects on each of us. Honestly, all but one or two of these stories would make for a compelling novel. Instead, she gives us misery porn. Ugh.

  • Thing Two
    2018-11-12 16:14

    This short story collection was excellent! I read it in twenty-four hours - waking up early to finish the last story. The author writes from multiple points of view - man/woman old/young. She deals with a variety of difficult situations - with humor, and grace, and heart. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys a well written short story - there are 10 here. I can't wait to see more from Robin Black!

  • Chris Dietzel
    2018-11-13 23:40

    Overall, I enjoyed this collection of short stories. The first two in particular were excellent and worthy of a 5-star rating. A few felt unnecessarily complex for the short story format and didn't have a chance to have a fully developed morale but were still nice to read. And like with all short story collections, a couple just fell flat. In all, I would gladly read another set of stories by Black in the future.

  • Ann Douglas
    2018-11-05 16:40

    Dear Robin Black:I hope you are writing another short story collection. I don't want to pressure you or anything, but I finished IF I LOVED YOU last night, and I'm ready to dive into your next book right now. It was that good.Each story in your collection is beautifully crafted and has something profound to say about relationships.Thank you for giving the world this book.A fan

  • Neelakshi Chakraborty
    2018-10-25 19:35

    I just loved this very humane, moving, achingly bittersweet collection of short stories - they transported me almost to another world with the texture of writing.Stories about fathers and mothers and their daughters, artists in love and mourning, and a solo traveler show all mingle and yet stand apart in a rare abandon.I would suggest you read these when in a devastatingly tender frame of mind. I did, and could succumb to the magic even more so than if I had been morose, lazy, or just lackadaisical in my mood swings. The stories are all etched with the end view of eliciting response from you on a very personal level. This book appeals to some tar-pit of the soul where I might flop around and malinger for years.Don't concentrate on the flaws, don't think about the less flattering angles to the stories i.e. the at times inconsistent tones, or the less-than-perfect characterization. What is important here is a sort of lulling effect, something like a morphine lollipop; something inarguable and just right about the lulling effect, the relationships, the sharp-as-a-prism writing, which induces a narcotic effect, and odd, off-centered moments all coming together, hovering on the edge of a deep brightness.Grab a copy right now. This collection is more about sensibility than literature - not that the two are not inter-connected- but these are meant to touch your soul, and this book is as glossy and nervy as some art book collection you had been eyeing longingly in that expensive section of the bookstore.

  • Randy
    2018-10-28 18:28

    I love this collection of stories. I found myself eking them out so I could continue to look forward to reading another one. I am not a short story fan, but Robin Black's collection captured me and will, I am certain, continue to capture me when I re-read them. Each one is like a miniature novels. I often find short stories bloodless; Black's are filled with juice and recognition. Characters jump off the page and into your head (and heart.) The writing is translucent--astounding without being show-offy or needlessly fancy. Robin Black had me spellbound.

  • Kristi
    2018-10-19 19:18

    This is the best book of short stories I've read in a very long time. Some of them are absolutely stunning. Beautifully written throughout.

  • Leila T.
    2018-10-20 21:33

    I've just realised that I'm mainly doing written reviews of the books I don't like so much. It's probably because I feel like I need to explain myself, and also probably because the books that I really like I just feel all mentally cozed up with; I just like the feelings I get from them and all that sentimental crap doesn't translate well in a review.In any case: "If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This" is not one of my favourites. It's probably a one-and-a-half stars, because there were tiny elements that I did like a little bit.I can't remember where I saw this book recommended, but it was really really recommended, and then you'll notice that the average review of this book on GoodReads is 3.75, which I think is pretty high.So my expectations were high.It's ten short stories about the "minds and hearts of people navigating the unsettling transitions that life presents to us all." Supposedly. But what I found is that the stories are about infidelity, divorce, special-needs children, more infidelity, lies, and death. Sometimes all at once. All ten stories stick with those themes, or at least that's how I remember it (I'm not going to find the book to double-check, mainly because I don't care enough).If those themes appeared once in one story each, I would probably feel less grouchy about the book as a collection, although there were other things that bothered me about the writing. But they were repeat offenders, all of them. It became extremely repetitive and boring. Nothing new was really brought to the table in each subsequent iteration of the theme---despite a change of characters in each short story. And it's so obvious! It's too obvious for a writer to repeatedly write about adultery when she's trying to get at the "unsettling transitions that life presents to us all." There are so very many other transitions that life presents to us ALL, with more frequency, and more relevancy, than people who cheat on their spouses. There are other things, more subtle, nuanced, and with perhaps less need to ostentatiously use swear words to show that the characters (and therefore the writer) are still "with-it", but that are fresher, more interesting, and way more relevant to the lives of everyday people than almost ten stories that talk about adultery.And then, in the "Acknowledgements", I read that the writer spent eight years writing these ten stories! If they had all been written at once, back to back, or something, it would be understandable that the writer had been going through some soul-searching in relation to a personal or removed experience of infidelity. But it seems as though she was preoccupied with this theme for almost a decade? I can't understand it.Yawn. It's just not as fascinating as it's made out to be.And when characters in their seventies are casually swearing in regular conversation over dinner, I call bullshit. (You see what I did there?) It does not ring true at all. What elderly gentleman would say something like (not actually in the book) "Pass the fucking salt, please?"? It's "shocking" language done for effect. It's false. It's not shocking and revolutionary, it's boring and embarrassing. It's jarring for the reader, who is trying to get under the skins of the characters: it's like finding a lump of cheddar cheese in a chocolate mousse. You want to have a do-over, because it's not chocolate mousse at all, it's a mess that tastes weird.And in almost every story (again, according to my memory) there is an instance of jarring use of language, words that come out of the mouths or actions committed by the characters that just do not seem to fit at all. It does not allow the reader to dissolve into the writing, into the characters: it makes the reader trip up over the mental imagery conjured by the dissonance between the proposed character and what they are proposed to be saying or doing. It made me read many paragraphs repeatedly, trying for a different reading of what was written there, trying to understand where the writing of that character was going. And it seemed to me, every time, that the character wasn't going to go anywhere, because they weren't "real". They were two-dimensional, written people only. I didn't believe in almost any of them, so the stories became exercises for me in examining syntax and dialogue, considering vocabulary, and reading comprehension. I never once felt like I was being taken inside the minds and hearts of these characters. "Plumb[ing:] the depths of love, loss and hope" was completely absent for me, in these stories. It was all empty shallowness and repetition of themes.It took me a whole week to read this book because I was not at all interested in it. I read it every night before bed because reading helps me sleep. This book, in particular, helped me sleep because it was repetitive and boring and I had no problems whatsoever putting it down before turning off the light.

  • Isaac Miller
    2018-11-13 19:23

    This review is going to be somewhat awkward. The stories in this book are all excellently written and well told. If I saw any one of the 10 stories in this collection published in The New Yorker I'd think they'd made a great choice (especially after the one they published this week). But when they're all put together they make something much less than the sum of its parts.Mrs. Black spent the last 8 years going to various workshops and getting an MFA while working on her stories, and that dedication shows. She is a great writer with well-honed skills. However, she's also like a magician who has worked on one trick for several years. Yes, she can probably do that trick better than anyone, but eventually the audience is going to want to see something else.In this case that "trick" is stories of loss. That loss comes in a number of forms, but whether it's the loss of a loved one, a friendship, or innocence, it's always tragic and leads to sad ruminations on life and love, or the lack thereof. If the characters in these stories are ever happy, it is either brief or an emotion felt by a secondary character. In nearly every marital relationship there is infidelity, many of the children have something wrong with them, and there is bad blood all around. By the time I reached the end of the book I couldn't help but say "Of course they did" when a character died or left their marriage for someone else, because I'd already seen it happen in the other stories.The characters themselves do things that are unexpected, but often in jarring ways. For example, I don't mind swearing in fiction, people use bad language all the time, but some of the people in these stories swear like they're just learning how. When a character in one story says "F***ing children. F***ing heartaches, all of them," I could only wonder 'Where the f**k did that come from?' because it was so out of place for that character.None of that is to say that I don't recommend this book. I do, because the stories are really good. The characters and plots are well-developed, and all other technical aspects are great. The problem is that it shouldn't be read cover-to-cover at one time. I recommend you read a story or two, then bury it under a pile of books or in your back garden, then about a month later when you've stopped thinking about the last story you read dig it back up again and go on to the next one, then repeat. That way you'll enjoy the stories without getting weighed down by the tragedy of them all.I think that Mrs. Black is a tremendously talented writer and I look forward to seeing what she publishes next. I just hope that next time she'll show us what other tricks are up her sleeve.

  • Lisa Walker
    2018-10-25 22:25

    If I Loved You I Would Tell You This is American author, Robin Black’s, first book. This collection of ten short stories delves deep into the minefield of human relationships. One of the things I found quite lovely about this book was the varied female characters. The first story, The Guide, features a sharp-talking blind girl who knows more about her parents’ marriage than they think. In If I Loved You, the story which gives its name to the collection, a woman tries to get inside the head of her uncaring neighbour who is building a high fence. Other stories showcase the inevitable cheating husbands and cheating wives with all the pain and wanting this entails. Immortalising John Parker introduces an aging painter mourning for the loss of her illicit lover. In an unusual and tender image she reflects that; “fighting off the moment of conversation had been like fighting off an orgasm, the delay designed to increase the pleasure.” The stories often draw elements together in surprising ways. In Pine a woman who has lost a leg is juxtaposed with a woman who has lost her husband. Black writes of the unspoken conversation between men and women. “This dishonesty of ours, as we prop each other up, tell one another jokes... It is the force of this pretence that pulls our words endlessly into those places of intimacy.” I’m sure we’ve all been there. There were so many lines I wanted to quote. Take this philosophical turn from Gaining Ground, “‘So what?’ I can still hear him say, like when we first met. ‘So what?’ I just think there’s an answer to that. Even if I haven’t found it yet. I just think there has to be.” Me too. Black’s writing is pared down, with a strong voice that draws the reader in. She has a knack of finding words for feelings that run so deep they are hard to voice, giving you that ‘aha’ feeling you get with the best writing. I would have gladly read a novel based on any of these stories, such was my interest in the characters. Clearly this is a book written by a woman has been around a bit. Black shares generously what she has learnt in her travels through the heart.

  • Girls Gone Reading
    2018-11-16 18:37

    The line between good writing and eloquence is so small that is difficult to describe. If I Loved You is pure eloquence. I can’t explain exactly why, but as soon as you read the first line you know…this book is going to be phenomenal.If I Loved You is a collection of short stories, but the book is constructed with a running theme that connects them all. Each of the characters is focused on time: how it changes you, how it races by us, and how we all wish we could let go of the need to control it. Death takes over many of the stories, but Robin Black used these stories to focus on hope.For example in the story, “If I Loved You I Would Tell You This” (clearly the one the title came from) the main character is dying. She is having a conflict with her neighbor-a neighbor who doesn’t know about her condition. This character could easily have turned bitter, but Black does the opposite. Instead this character tells us all the things she would tell this neighbor if they were close, if they loved each other at all. It was beautiful and touching, and I think about it still.Similarly, Black does a wonderful job describing all the characters. One of my favorite stories in the book-”Gaining Ground”-is only twelve pages long, but in that short time you get an entire back story, conflict, and setting. With just a phrase, Black creates a story that you immerse yourself in.So maybe that is eloquence…maybe I was able to describe it! If I Loved You I Would Tell You This is pure eloquence, pure art because it creates a whole world in a sentence, and that sentence still hasn’t let me go.

  • Sonya
    2018-10-23 18:20

    Each story in this collection has its own loss, its own secret heart. They do exactly what short stories should, distill a moment in time in the life of a character, present a situation in its crisis or its quiet contemplation. My favorite story turned out to be the one I thought I wouldn't like, about a woman who's had a stroke, who must contend with the choices of her forty-year-old daughter. While I was reading many of these Black stories, I wondered how she got into my head and knew what I've been thinking about all my life.

  • Jane Ciabattari
    2018-11-03 22:19

    This first collection sparkles:http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-an...

  • Karen G
    2018-11-17 17:36

    4 stars for the writing... I do love her writing especially in the novel Life Drawing... these short stories left me wanting more... no endings to them.. I guess I'm just not a fan of short stories.

  • Iris P
    2018-10-29 17:42

    Review coming up!

  • Bettie☯
    2018-10-19 21:43

    Want a piece of this sociopathic passive anger? Then arm yourself with a blunt Stanley knife and put on a REM dirge

  • Wendy
    2018-11-12 19:18

    Got this free through First Reads!In general I like short story collections. I like reading a little bit at a time, skipping around, having the chance to peek into lots of different characters' lives. Also, if I'm not into one story, it doesn't have to ruin the whole book for me, as I may just like the next. If I Loved You, I would Tell You This had those things I like about short story collections going for it, and the bonus of underlying themes tying the stories together. I liked some of the stories better than others, in fact I didn't even make it through one and felt pretty meh about a few others. But there were a couple I really liked. Overall I think this particular short story collection is not exactly my style. To begin with, I didn't like some of the language and situations. Then, the stories are filled with imperfect characters (that I didn't always like) who occasionally trip into fantastic situations (as in not completely realistic) with unresolved endings that left me going "huh?" and feeling like there was something missing. I tried to read some Munro stories before and had a similar reaction. (So fans of that author would probably like this book.) The themes of loss, death, and what we say (and don't say) to those we love (and don't love) were interesting (if a bit depressing). My favorite bit was in the story about the woman who lost her brother. She admits that she doesn't think about him every day anymore, and that this sometimes stuns her. "It isn't only the discomfort of disloyalty I feel, it's the fact of utter disappearance after death. The idea that as loved as we may be, we may also be forgotten. If only for a day here and there." Powerful. But sad.

  • Shannon
    2018-10-29 21:27

    I bought this book from the Borders going out of business sale in 2011. I had pretty much forgotten about it until I did a search for a different book and found this one on a list of 5 Must-Read Short-Story Collections. So I got right to it. This book gets a different kind of 4 star rating. Not because it's so good but because it's so spot on. The book is not upbeat. It's not exciting. It doesn't really have cliff hangers. It feels more like an exposé. It's about people, families, friends, and their issues. It's a look inside the "perfect" families, the "perfect" friendships, and the revelation that things aren't so perfect at all. I'm fond of the women in this book. They're not all likable and that's why I like them. They make snide remarks. They express resentment. They dislike people. I appreciate this author for writing about real women and allowing them to just be instead of molding them into likeable characters. Black is able to poignantly write what people are feeling. So many times I stopped and sat with passages, so touched by the way she articulates the thoughts of these characters. And I was just as captivated by the complexities of their lives. It's a tough book to recommend because it feels very personal. If feels more subjective to me than the majority of the books I've read. I do wish I had read it in the fall or winter when I was in the mood to cozy up with a book. It's that type of read...

  • Lauren
    2018-10-28 21:35

    This book is excellent. In the past I've often been left dissatisfied by short stories, as if their authors had tried to tell too big a story in too small a frame. Robin Black does the opposite -- she shows the reader brief moments and vignettes in the lives of her characters. This way, instead of focusing on the literary process of character development or trying to invent believable people, she is able to tell the stories of men and women who seem to already exist and focus on what's really important. She writes insightfully, and her voice is honest and clever as she looks at relationships, suffering, change, loss and life through the eyes of those who live it. I think Black's strength lies in her ability to convey the importance of relationships -- with parents, brothers, children, husbands, ex-wives, lovers, friends, and strangers -- in our ability to stay strong though the turbulence of life.Black captures the human experience in a collection of beautifully written, original short stories. I'll be more than happy to lend you this book. But no, you can't keep it, because I want to read it again.

  • Ruth Seeley
    2018-11-06 20:34

    I have not been this excited about a writer since I first encountered Ann Beattie, Amy Hempel, and Barbara Gowdy. These stories are like the rarest, most highly polished, and precious of gems from an extremely mature writer. I'm not surprised the 10 stories in the collection took eight years to write. While all the stories deal with loss and the grieving process in one form or another, there is nothing bleak about them. They are, rather, intricately layered pleas for kindness, empathy and a form of emotional generosity we rarely cultivate in ourselves - or get from others. There are no weak stories in this collection. Much as I'd like to share with family and friends, I'm afraid they're going to have to get their own copies, because I can't imagine not keeping this one so I can reread it several times. Poignant, moving, and ironic, but never lacking a dark humour.

  • Tammy Parks
    2018-11-05 22:43

    This is a beautiful and rather melancholy collection of stories. Parents, children, couples coming together, couples falling apart, friends, strangers, lovers, all of them facing the challenges and tragedies of life. These characters aren't perfect, aren't always likeable, but they are all relatable. Robin Black is a very subtle writer, a master of quiet moments and things implied rather than spoken.This book is full of lovely passages ... "Her mother thought of her as ramshackle by nature, seeming to move through life in great loops of forward and backward progress, trailing loose ends behind her like maypole ribbons." With a brevity of words, we learn so much about this character. I highly recommend this book, especially if you're a lover of short stories.